Saudi Arabia: What’s Canada to do?

SAUDI ARABIA is a brutal regime. 

Why does Canada import up to 80,000 barrels per day of Saudi crude into refineries on our east coast?

There’s a lot of land-locked crude sitting in the western Canadian prairies. It would require a new pipeline build or a reversal of an existing pipe. Energy East, remember? In an upcoming election year, displacing Saudi oil with Canadian crude could be a political win for the Trudeau government. 

Considering the Saudi regime’s unbelievable cover story and persistent lies to account for a vicious murder of a prominent Saudi journalist, what’s Canada to do?

If I were at a diplomatic table, I’d encourage peace-building in Yemen as a condition of any go-forward relationship with the disgraced leadership ruling the Saudi kingdom.

IMG_1952For years, I was in and out of Yemen doing business as an energy executive, and later leading humanitarian teams. Yemen, the very poorest of jurisdictions in the Middle East has, bizarrely, the most coveted deepwater ports in the region. Aden, a former British port, Mukalla and Hoddeidah. And Yemen controls Bab-el-Mandeb, the strait between Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula and Djibouti and Eritrea on the Horn of Africa.

Right now, Yemen is the unfortunate host to a bitter war:  Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates vs. Iran. Westerners write this off as a religious war that outsiders — especially non-Muslims — can’t resolve, and should avoid getting their hands dirty in it. Many Yemenis I know see this as a battle for Yemen’s ports.

Here’s what’s really at stake: 

Tidewater access for the Saudis. The kingdom covets a channel, running from their borders through the Hadhramout region of Yemen to oil export terminals on the Indian Ocean. And the Emiratis want access to deepwater ports and control of Bab-el-Mandeb, a major choke-point linking the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.

IMG_2534Think of it: Tidewater access as the booty of war. And tidewater access — the chokepoint for exports, and a landlocked economy. 

Sound familiar?

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